The Pleiades also known as the Seven Sisters and Messier 45), are an open star cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky.
The cluster is dominated by hot blue and extremely luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. Dust that forms a faint reflection nebulosity around the brightest stars was thought at first to be left over from the formation of the cluster (hence the alternative name Maia Nebula after the star Maia), but is now known to be an unrelated dust cloud in the interstellar medium, through which the stars are currently passing. Computer simulations have shown that the Pleiades were probably formed from a compact configuration that resembled the Orion Nebula. Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will disperse due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood.
The name of the Pleiades comes from Ancient Greek. It probably derives from plein ("to sail") because of the cluster's importance in delimiting the sailing season in the Mediterranean Sea: "the season of navigation began with their heliacal rising". However, in mythology the name was used for the Pleiades, seven divine sisters, the name supposedly deriving from that of their mother Pleione and effectively meaning "daughters of Pleione". In reality, the name of the star cluster almost certainly came first, and Pleione was invented to explain it. Read more
Pleiades and Stardust NASA - November 22, 2007
M45: The Pleiades Star Cluster NASA - November 18, 2007
Seven Dusty Sisters NASA - April 13, 2007
M45: The Pleiades Star Cluster NASA - January 9, 2006
April's Moon and the Pleiades NASA - April 14, 2005
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